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Missoula Personal Injury Blog

Why individuals should avoid drowsy driving

Those who choose to drive on Montana roads should make sure that they are not sleep deprived or under the influence of sleep medication. According to a Consumer Reports survey, roughly 20% of respondents who took prescription sleep aids did so less than seven hours before driving a vehicle. The directions say that an individual should wait at least seven hours before driving to avoid doing so while groggy.

Individuals who drive while sleep deprived could experience the same effects as those who drive while under the influence of alcohol. Driving after being awake for 24 consecutive hours is the same as operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .10%, which is above the legal limit of .08%. A study conducted by AAA in 2018 found that 9.5% of crashes are caused by drowsy drivers.

Car accident may lead to a variety of injuries

You drive to work just as you do on any other typical Monday morning. However, your morning ends very differently when a distracted motorist on the highway crashes into the side of your car.

Following the accident, you now have car damage and serious injuries. Fortunately, you have the right to seek compensation for the injuries you have suffered in such a situation. Here is a glimpse at the various kinds of injuries you could suffer in an accident, as well as how to seek damages for these injuries in Montana.

Doctors warn against misdiagnosis of sepsis

Many Montana residents are worried about the potential dangers posed by infections, especially because serious infections can be deadly. If a patient goes into sepsis, he or she could die because of the way the body responds to the presence of an infectious agent. While treatment of sepsis or septic shock is critical to save lives, the wrong treatment decisions can also be dangerous. Physicians have raised questions about a campaign that aims to begin specific treatments for sepsis within one hour after medical professionals recognize the condition.

Some emergency room physicians argue that following these guidelines strictly could actually pose an increased danger to patients without protecting lives, due to the risk of a misdiagnosis or overtreatment. Sepsis can, of course, be fatal, and treatment is critical. However, a misdiagnosis could lead to powerful, inaccurate treatment that could cause severe, long-lasting side effects. Previous directives for treating sepsis put in place protocols for three and six hours after diagnosis. The intention was to reduce the time between diagnosis and treatment, but the rush associated with a one-hour protocol could lead to mistakes in diagnosis, doctors argue.

Study finds three conditions that are frequently misdiagnosed

In July 2019, the journal Diagnosis published a study showing how the majority of medical malpractice claims arise because of the misdiagnosis of three conditions: cancer, vascular events and infections. If medical experts focused on reducing these three types of misdiagnoses, there would be fewer instances of patient injury and death in Montana and across the U.S.

Researchers looked at some 55,000 malpractice claims filed between 2006 and 2015, especially the 12,000 claims arising from a misdiagnosis. It turned out that 74% of these claims arose from the misdiagnosis of the above three conditions. Cancer made up 38% of them, vascular events 23% and infections 13%.

Man dies in SunTrust Park beer cooler, widow files suit

In June 2018, a man installing a beer-dispensing system at SunTrust Park, the home ballpark of the Atlanta Braves, was found dead in a concession stand beer cooler. Now, the widow is filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the Atlanta Braves and the construction team in charge of the installation. Montana residents should know that the man had invented a system called Draftwell that reduces the average pour time for beer. He had installed it previously in two Major League Baseball stadiums.

The lawsuit alleges that the construction team knew about issues with the door release mechanisms in the stadium's coolers. In fact, the team had received an email about this prior to the incident. The team should have also known about any carbon dioxide leaks in the draft beer system. Not only that, but they should have also addressed the issues before the installation began.

Surgeons' unprofessional behavior leads to patient complications

Every year in Montana and across the U.S., surgeons perform an average of 7 million procedures. Between 70% and 80% of surgeons are never reported by co-workers for unprofessional behavior. The remainder, though, are putting patients at a higher risk for post-operative complications. This is the finding of a new study published in JAMA Surgery.

In all, some 500,000 patients may be affected annually by the unprofessional behavior of surgeons. This behavior includes poor communication, the outright failure to communicate orders, disrespectful treatment of co-workers and unsafe care. For patients, the result could be stroke, cardiovascular conditions, sepsis, renal conditions or pneumonia, to name a few complications.

Tips for avoiding motor vehicle accidents

Long holiday weekends can be particularly dangerous for drivers since more cars are on the road, but bad weather and other factors can also contribute to accidents. There are things drivers can do to make the roads safer for themselves and others.

First, people should be aware of and obey traffic laws. Speeding and other violations are among the top causes of motor vehicle accidents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that in 2013, driving under the influence was a factor in almost one-third of deadly car crashes. Drivers who would never consider drinking and driving might still get behind the wheel when they are tired, but this can be dangerous as well. People should remain alert while driving.

Even fender benders can cause serious crash injuries

If you are one of the many vehicle operators in Missoula and across Montana, you and your loved ones might be at considerable risk of suffering crash injuries. Even minor accidents can cause injuries of varying severity, depending on different factors. These include the speed of the colliding vehicles, the position of the passengers, the place of impact and whether occupants wore their seat belts.

If you or a loved one are involved in a wreck, it may not be concerning if there is no blood gushing from open wounds. However, not all injuries are immediately apparent, and a medical evaluation is essential because, the sooner a doctor can diagnose the injuries, the better the chances of full recovery.

Wrong-site surgery still common

According to estimates, there are between 40 and 60 wrong-site surgeries every week nationwide. These mistakes can cause severe damages that may affect Montana patients for a lifetime. Taking a time out is the practice of medical personnel to have a meeting prior to surgery. This procedure allows for doctors and medical staff to review the case and voice any concerns they have.

According to an associate director working with the Center for Transforming Healthcare, the time out is the last safeguard before surgery. It is the last chance for medical staff to avoid permanently injuring a patient due to wrong-site surgery. The worst thing that can happen, according to the associate director, is for the time out process to become rote.

Social media a major source of distracted driving

Root Insurance has shared the results of an online study conducted by Wakefield Research, and they may be surprising to some drivers in Montana. Of the nearly 2,000 drivers who responded to the survey, about half claimed that distracted driving is their top concern when on the road, yet the respondents were found to use their phones for an average of 13 minutes every day behind the wheel.

Even more inconsistent is the fact that 99 percent of respondents acknowledged phone use as one of the top three distractions that are possible while driving. Drivers were, on the whole, more ready to criticize others for the same behaviors they exhibit. So 89 percent said they would give a bad rating to an Uber or Lyft driver for texting and driving, and 90 percent called themselves better drivers than these ride-hailing drivers.


Towe & Fitzpatrick, PLLC
619 SW Higgins, Ste. O
P.O. Box 1745
Missoula, MT 59806

Phone: 406-203-5148
Phone: 406-829-1669
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